Stone in Contemporary Design

June 12, 2017

Stone has been used as a building material for thousands of years, but it is anything but outdated. Today stone is widely used in contemporary design to great effect.
Once restricted to use on imposing castles, great monuments, and elegant estates, stone is now no longer only available to the ultra-rich. It has become a favourite material of anyone looking to build their dream home, or upgrade their existing property.

Why stone?

There is a reason that stone has been used as a building material for so many years. It is strong, waterproof, fireproof, durable, imposing, and lasts for thousands of years. Virtually all of the most historic and iconic structures that we know today are made of stone. Everything from Stonehenge, to the Egyptian pyramids, to the Great Wall of China as well as countless castles, bridges, buildings, chateaus, fortifications, cathedrals and temples are all made of stone.

While modern materials like concrete, iron, and steel have surpassed stone as the preferred building material, stone is still associated with the qualities that made it so widely used: strength, resilience, permanence, safety, and power. Contemporary stone design plays with these qualities, and, because of the sleek look of stone, brings a contemporary twist to a time-tested favourite.


What is contemporary stone design?

Stone has never been out of style, but contemporary stone design is making the material more popular than ever. But what exactly is contemporary design?

In current practice, the words contemporary and modern are often used interchangeably. Interestingly, modern design, as a particular style, refers to a very specific period typically defined as 1920 to the mid-1980’s, but it arguably peaked in the 1950’s, 1960’s, and 1970’s, a period known as mid-century modern.  In architectural terms Frank Lloyd Wright is the most well-known figure in modern architecture.

For an idea of what modern design looks like, ironically, you have to look back to the 1960’s and 1970’s – think Mad Men – the futuristic style made use of synthetic and natural materials.

Contemporary design simply refers to current design trends.

Like this modern design, contemporary stone design combines new elements with traditional materials. Stone, for example, is sometimes used alongside sleek stainless steel. The difference is that the retro-futuristic feel of modern design has been replaced by a far more organic version based on comfort, utility, and complimentary designs. Rather than form a visual juxtaposition (as many modern designs did) stone fits seamlessly with modern materials.

Cream, tan, white, black, and beige are all popular colours in contemporary design, and the use of natural light is hugely popular. Natural materials like wood are also being used more frequently, as are reclaimed materials. Stone fits seamlessly with this new aesthetic.
Uses of contemporary stone design

It is difficult to sum up contemporary stone design in one succinct sentence because stone has so many applications. In contemporary design stone is commonly used on:

  • Walls and floors
  • Backsplashes in the kitchen and bathroom
  • Fireplaces
  • Wine cellars
  • Bars
  • Exterior walls
  • Accent walls

Contemporary design blends the traditional, natural look of stone with our modern technology and materials. It is comfortable, unpretentious, and fits seamlessly with contemporary life. Ultimately, stone lends an air of elegance and timelessness while also tapping into our contemporary appreciation for nature.